Memoir of the Rev. John Brown, part 5

Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

In his employment as a shepherd–a calling so much ennobled in the patriarchal age, and so universally celebrated both in the ancient and modern pastoral–he enjoyed more leisure, and better opportunities, for prosecuting his favourite studies, than could have fallen to his share in almost any other business; nor did he neglect to improve such promising circumstances. In a very short time he left far behind him many who had the advantage of every thing calculated to quicken their progress,–proper books, leisure to study them, and the best masters for their instructors. Left to his own resources, however, he acquired the knowledge of the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages, with a rapidity that attraced the attention of the neighbourhood, and became the general topic of conversation. But while this procured him many friends, it at the same time hurt the pride, and excited the malice, of some of his outstripped rivals in the race of literary fame. It was, accordingly, whispered, that the progress he was making in his studies, in the absence of all instruction, bearing no proportion to the powers of the human mind, could only be accounted for by supposing that his unaccountable progress was effected by the agency of the devil; who, with a similar temptation, had seduced the mother of mankind, and has, in all ages, taken the advantage of the studious and scholastic habits of individuals to entangle them in his snares.–“Report ye, and we will report: come, let us smite him with the tongue.” Notwithstanding that this malevolent slander had absurdity deeply imprinted on its forehead, it was eagerly laid hold of by the ignorant and credulous, and so widely circulated, that the innocent victim felt it extremely distressing, and more especially since even Mr. Moncrieff appeared, for a season, to be influenced by it, and withdrew his countenance from him–a thing which, he afterwards admitted, was very cruel and unkind. For although the charge of diabolical intercourse was no longer admissible in the criminal courts of the country, yet the superstitious notions and prejudices handed down from the dark ages of popery were, at that period, so far from being eradicated from the minds of the people, especially in sequestered corners of the country, that such surmises were still capable of ruining a man’s peace, and inflicting a serious wound on a mind of even the most ordinary feeling. To one so ardent in the prosecution of knowledge, and so anxious to attain the qualifications necessary for a minister of the gospel, it must have been no common affliction to have all his pleasing anticipations thus cruelly blighted in a moment; for, as he apprehended, the immediate tendency of this foul reproach was to blast his religious character, and counteract his whole purpose, by shutting against him the door of the divinity hall. On those who were best acquainted with him (the members of a praying society with which he was connected,) the slander had no impression; they continued his steady friends, and their attachment seemed to strengthen in proportion to the anguish he suffered from such an unmerited calumny. In the narrative already quoted we find him speaking thus:  “The reproach was exceedingly distressing to me; however, God was gracious, for I enjoyed remarkable mixture of mercy and affliction. At the beginning of the trial these words, ‘The Lord will command his loving-kindness in the day-time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life,’ were peculiarly sweet to my soul.”

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One response

  1. Hi my name is Paula and I have found one of these bibles in my loft it’s absolutely marvellous and would like to know more please it’s very very old my email is down at min you could reply to my messenger on Facebook with the email and name of Paula bird thanks in advance X

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